KPAC Blog

The KPAC Blog features classical music news and analysis.  From a detailed look at Wagner's masterpiece "Parsifal," to an inside look at the Latin Grammys, the KPAC Blog features writings about some of the music played on air as well as other interviews and essays about classical music.

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Music News
8:55 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

Duke Ellington's Lost Opera, Forever A Work In Progress

Karen Marie Richardson (right) plays the title role in the Long Beach Opera's staging of Queenie Pie, the jazz opera Duke Ellington left unfinished when he died in 1974.
Bryan Frank Long Beach Opera

Originally published on Sun February 2, 2014 5:42 pm

Duke Ellington added more than 3,000 songs to the American music vault before his death in 1974. He also started composing what he hoped would be a great American street opera — which composers have spent 40 years adapting, trying to figure out what the Duke wanted for his unfinished opus.

But before you imagine soothing arias or boisterous trills and vibrato, let me stop you: Ellington's opera is very much a work of jazz.

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Classical Music
4:23 pm
Sat February 1, 2014

A Holocaust Tale Unfolds On Two Levels

Mieczyslaw Weinberg's opera The Passenger tells the story of an Auschwitz prisoner and a Nazi guard, whose lives continue to interweave after the the war.
Lynn Lane Houston Grand Opera

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 11:00 pm

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich called it a perfect masterpiece without ever having seen it performed. The Passenger, an opera about the Holocaust, was written nearly half a century ago, but was only given its first full performance just three years ago.

Now it's getting its U.S. premiere at the Houston Grand Opera. The opera is based on a story by a Holocaust survivor, with music by Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a composer who lost his entire family in the Nazi death camps.

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Simon Says
9:03 am
Sat February 1, 2014

Opera Star Renee Fleming Brings Grace To The Super Bowl

Opera singer Renee Fleming will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" live on Sunday night.
Larry Busacca Getty Images

Originally published on Sat February 1, 2014 11:00 pm

Who knows who'll win the Super Bowl tomorrow, but history will be made before the coin toss.

Renee Fleming will sing the national anthem at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. She is the first opera star to be asked, and it seems so utterly fitting, both for the first Super Bowl to be played within view of the towers of New York, and in the 200th anniversary year of the national anthem.

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KPAC Blog
11:55 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Ballet San Antonio Takes On Stravinsky Classic 'The Firebird'

Firebird dancers.
Courtesy photo

A ballet classic is opening soon, and Ballet San Antonio is presenting it. If you don’t know the story behind Igor Stravinsky’s "The Firebird," Ballet San Antonio President and CEO Courtney Barker explains its premise, starting with Prince Ivan.

“He goes on a journey to seek and win the heart of a princess," she said. "On his journey he meets a glowing, magical bird that protects him through the journey. And we have monsters that come out, and those are played by ten of our male dancers.”

The firebird protects our pirouetting protagonist in his search for his princess.

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Classical Music
10:46 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Cowboys In Love: 'Brokeback Mountain' Saddles Up For Opera

Tom Randle (left) and Daniel Okulitch in the opera Brokeback Mountain.
Javier del Real Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 1:38 pm

In 2005, the film Brokeback Mountain broke ground as a major motion picture portraying a love story about two men: a pair of young cowboys, Ennis and Jack, in the 1960s.

They fall in love during a summer spent tending sheep in the isolation of a fictional mountain in Wyoming. They spend the rest of the film — and their lives — grappling with a love that they have to keep secret.

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NPR Story
12:03 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Rare Violin Worth Millions Stolen In Milwaukee

Frank Almond performs with his Stradivarius violin in WUWM's studios in 2008. (Bonnie North)

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 3:38 pm

Police around the world are on the lookout for a Stradivarius violin, stolen in a brazen armed robbery Monday night in Milwaukee.

The instrument, owned by Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond, is nearly 300 years old and said to be worth millions.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Mitch Teich of WUWM reports.

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KPAC Blog
4:04 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Opera Expert Visits SA For McNay Lecture & "Romantic, Mysterious" Rusalka

Marc A. Scorca
Dario Acosta

Thursday night, January 30, the McNay Art Museum’s Chiego Lecture Hall hosts a world-renown expert on opera, something about which many of us know little.

The McNay Art Museum event is called Why Opera Matters and the lecture will be delivered by Marc Scorca, the president and CEO of Opera America.

"An art form that is incorrectly perceived as to be a 19th century European art form when in fact, it is not only a 21st century American art form, but one that speaks to our deepest humanity, and I think makes us better people," Scorca said.

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Classical Music
3:16 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

The Surprising Staging of the Symphony's "Rusalka"

Sebastian Lang-Lessing
San Antonio Symphony

If you’re used to going to see the symphony at the Majestic, there is the stage, and there is the audience and ne’er the twain shall meet…but not so with “Rusalka.”

“Rusalka is kind of an adult fairytale. This is rather a grand opera." 

James Robinson has traveled from St. Louis to stage “Rusalka.” As he explains, the details of the opera itself demand a lot from everyone in the production.

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KPAC Blog
12:22 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Opera Piccola Presents 'La Curandera' At Empire Theatre

Along with the San Antonio Symphony's "Rusalka," another opera is coming. It’s called "La Curandera," and it’s got a fascinating backstory.

“La Curandera is a very special opera for us," said Opera Piccola General Director Mark Richter about the opera written by former San Antonian Robert Xavier Rodriguez. It’s modeled after Mozart’s "Bastien and Bastiene," but with a twist.

"It’s definitely Mexican culture that’s going to be in the music and on the stage," Richter said.

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Deceptive Cadence
9:26 am
Tue January 28, 2014

Watch Musicians Elevate A Trip To A Big-Box Store

Courtesy of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 2:34 pm

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